Covid: Bodies pile up

17 June 2021 | Health

Henriette Lamprecht



WINDHOEK

Bodies of Covid-19 fatalities have spilled over to the state mortuary’s hallways because of a lack of space in refrigerators.

According to a source who chose to remain anonymous and sent photos of the situation, "the government is too pathetic to do anything about the situation".

"The people sitting in offices out there have no idea what's going on here," the source said.

According to them, the bodies in hallways are mostly the remains of people who died from Covid-19 and who have been "wrapped in plastic".

“Something has to be done; it's the worst I've seen in six years.”

According to the source, one of the reasons for the pile-up is because families are slow to identify their loved ones’ bodies.

Disheartened families

When contacted for comment, a coroner explained that Covid-19 remains are wrapped in plastic and placed in a coffin made available by the family by a Covid team from the morgue.

“The team put the bodies in the coffins themselves. The remains aren’t cared for and washed like usual, and are placed in plastic just like that. Families are often very disheartened by this and it is difficult to bury someone in this condition,” he said.

According to him, loaded coffins are transported from the mortuary and the hearse is accompanied by a Covid team.

During funerals, this team also covers graves first before families are allowed near, the coroner said.

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula had already warned a week ago that mortuaries across the country are overwhelmed, with the increasing number of Covid-19 deaths placing even more pressure on the situation.

According to the minister, some bodies have been at mortuaries for over five years.

With the coronavirus death toll now exceeding the 1 000 mark, Shangula urged members of the public who have lost family members to Covid-19 to bury their loved ones as soon as possible, and within the allotted time.

Regulations

According to protocol, all cultural and religious practices may be carried out as long as Covid-19 regulations are adhered to.

Close family members are allowed three metres from the grave, while other mourners may not come within 10 metres of the site. Furthermore, social distancing of at least two metres must be maintained.

Mourners may scatter sand or flowers on the grave, but are not allowed to stand still and must remain at least 1.5 metres from each other at all times. Family members near the grave must don full protective clothing, which they will have to pay for themselves.

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